John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Book review: Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? True Adventures in Cult Fandom

Speaking of books, I finished one last night, and while I would usually wait until my next Book Dump post to talk about it, I decided this one needs to be discussed sooner than later, because it's one that I think will be of particular interest to a lot of people who read this journal. The book in question was Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? True Adventures in Cult Fandom by Allyson Beatrice. My verdict: it's not good. I recommend you skip it.

There are plenty of things to dislike about Vampire People, but for this post I'll focus on the two biggest ones. (I may highlight some of the others in separate posts over the next few days.) First, Beatrice's life is not particularly interesting, certanly not enough to justify writing a memoir. The book is predicated on the idea that any given anecdote automatically becomes interesting simply by adding some variation on the phrase "who I met on the Internet" to it. For example, one year, instead of going to see her family at Thanksgiving, she took part in a trip to Catalina Island with several of her friends... who she met on the Internet! Isn't that interesting? Well, no, actually, at least not the way she describes the trip. Similarly uninteresting anecdotes involve her helping Joss Whedon's assistant find a home for Joss's cat, inviting a friend to move to Los Angeles and stay at her apartment while she looked for a job and a place to live, and helping organize and decorate a wedding ceremony for two of her gay friends. Add the phrase "who I met on the Internet" to each one, and the point is clear: an uninteresting anecdote involving a bunch of random people you've never heard of does not magically become interesting upon learning that said bunch of random people you've never heard of first met one another online.

The other big problem is that Beatrice comes across as a deeply unlikeable person. To her credit, she admits this at several different points throughout the book (pg. 81: "I'm a jerk..." pg. 143: "I must be the asshole..."), and is not shy about demonstrating it. A good example is the story that inspired the title:

     The oldest, dearest friends in all the world burst into the Holiday Inn lobby and squealed like fourteen-year-old girls with backstage passes for 'N SYNC. There were hugs all around, much laughters, and screams of pure delight.
     The exasperated employees working the lobby's front desk, however, had enough of the glee and bellowed, "WILL THE VAMPIRE PEOPLE PLEASE LEAVE THE LOBBY?"
     Now, keep in mind that this hotel was otherwise empty; it was a desperate weekend in hotel land with no other conferences in town. The Vampire People filled this hotel at a time of year when hotels are barren, creaky, stale vessels of lunchtime infidelities past. Their tourist dollars didn't matter, though, because they were Vampire People.
     Vampire People? We knew what this was code for: You are all fucking dorks.

Well, no. There's a word to describe people who come into your place of business and start screaming and jumping around like a bunch of chimps: assholes. Hotel clerks, being customer service professionals, know that it's not generally a good idea to call your clients assholes, even when they're acting like assholes. Especially when they're acting like assholes, in fact. But at the same time, you can't just let them continue being assholes in your lobby -- Beatrice's assumption that they were the only people staying in the hotel is self-serving and highly unlikely (it was a holiday weekend at a hotel near Los Angeles) -- so you have to get their attention somehow... hence, "vampire people," which has the advantage of being both specific and, yes, vaguely derogatory.

At any rate, the point is that Beatrice presents herself as a rather unpleasant person, and generally speaking I prefer not to spend time with such people, even when they're confined to the printed page. That's not to say I've never enjoyed a book about unpleasant people, but those books were more interesting and better written than this one

That said, if reading about an uninteresting, unpleasant person strikes you as a good way to spend your time, I guess you could do worse that spending a few hours with Vampire People. I just wouldn't recommend it.

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